Achievement in Cinematography | Dan Lausten – The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water is a beautiful film stamped with Guillermo del Toro’s signature. It is undoubtedly del Toro’s most cinematically pleasing work since Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). The strengths of this film though lie directly in its ability to transport you to another world – and for that, Dan Lausten deserves credit for lighting The Shape of Water so magnificently. Every shadow or highlight accentuate and complement every moment. There is depth beneath the surface that this cinematography allows us to explore.
Outstanding Achievement in Editing | William Goldenberg, Harry Yoon – Detroit
Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit runs 2 hours and 23 minutes – meaning editors William Goldenberg and Harry Yoon sustain immense tension for an extended – prolonged – unnerving period of time. What isn’t seen is as gut-wrenching as what is – but the idea that one could craft such an experience so thoroughly is commendable, albeit torturous. The rising action is crafted – edited – in such a way that what begins at a high level of anxiety travels to new heights – and delivers shocking, sickening moments.
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction | Nigel Churcher – The Shape of Water
Nigel Churcher’s work with Guillermo del Toro on The Shape of Water transports viewers into a 1960s B-movie world. The “Amphibian Man” (Doug Jones), combined with every element of the production, notably the cinematography, create a luscious fantasy that designed to place you in another world entirely.
Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design | Bina Daigeler – The Zookeeper’s Wife
The Zookeeper’s Wife, directed by Niki Caro and starring Jessica Chastain is a bleak movie told from the fresh perspective of a female filmmaker, driven by the works of a miraculous woman. Bina Daigeler’s costuming for this World War II drama offers a glimpse of color and beauty to an ugly and darkened world around “Antonina Zabinska.” The tailored and brilliantly muted colors depict light in the darkest corner of Earth.
Outstanding Achievement in Special and Visual Effects |
Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri – War for the Planet of the Apes
Dan Lemmon and Joe Letteri earn their second award in this category for their work on the Planet of the Apes franchise. The Apes trilogy has featured amazing special and visual effects that have become synonymous with performance capture at its highest depiction. The work the teams these two have been associated with have produced has been nothing short of amazing – technological feats of the past decade.
Emerging Actor or Actress | Timothée Chalamet
With a leading role in Call Me By Your Name and supporting roles in Lady Bird and Hostiles, Timothée Chalamet was the front-running indie darling, who I suspect will transition into full-fledged star within a matter of years. He’s an excellent craft actor with three announced projects on the horizon – one with embattled director Woody Allen (A Rainy Day in New York) due out in 2018 and as “Henry V” in The King, written by Joel Edgerton, due out in 2019.
Best Original Song | (tie)
“Mystery of Love” – performed by Sufjan Stevens – Call Me By Your Name
“Remember Me” – performed by various artists – Coco
I’ve never tied this category before – but “Mystery of Love” is to Call Me By Your Name what “Remember Me” is to Coco. Both films can be defined by these original songs. Both are tender, sweet melodies or sentiments that remind the viewer (during or after screening) of the importance of love, and the mysteries surrounding it.
Best Original Score | Michael Giacchino – War for the Planet of the Apes
Two moments sold this score to me: The aftermath of the slaughter of “Caesar’s” family and when “Maurice” (Karin Konoval) meets “Nova” (Amiah Miller). Michael Giacchino’s score delivers a peaceful, beautiful movement after aggressively attacking with tragedy. The juxtaposition of the composition is marvelous.
Best Original Screenplay | Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
A tale of heartbreak and frustration that morphs into a revenge plot is handled in a way that doesn’t seem too absurd, or unreasonable. Violence is an increasing part of American life – and when that violence strikes a single mother in Midwestern America, her reaction to inaction seems justified (or is it?) and dare I say – plausible. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of the finest stories of this, or any recent year.
Best Adapted Screenplay | James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name
James Ivory adapted André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name in a faithful and fulfilling way that captured the caring, sensuality and sexuality of the novel. There were moments that were transformed into what they needed to be for film, while others were completely explored. The story concludes at a perfect moment as well, for the novel surpasses the end credits by twenty years.
Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture | War for the Planet of the Apes
(inaugural year for this award)
As many of you know, I’ve received the rebooted Planet of the Apes very warmly over the years – and I’ve been an advocate for the work of performance capture artists, namely Andy Serkis, who portrays “Caesar.” Perhaps I come to this award with collective work in mind because the cast throughout this prequel trilogy has been consistently exceptional. Their sense of camaraderie is apparent and the way the “live” actors blend with those in performance capture is flawless – especially the scenes in War for the Planet of the Apes featuring with emerging actress Amiah Miller (“Nova”), Karin Konoval (“Maurice”), Steve Zahn (“Bad Ape”) and Andy Serkis (“Caesar”).
Best Promotional Poster | Kong: Skull Island
(inaugural year for this award)
In its inaugural year, I’m giving Kong: Skull Island the award for “Best Promotional Poster.” The poster is a work of art that captures the action and adventure of the film, conveys the time period, the menacing of the world Kong lives in and the threats of mankind to unexplored Earth and life.
Best Animated Short Film | Esteban Bravo, Beth David – In A Heartbeat
In a Heartbeat became a viral phenomenon about a teenage boy in love – with another boy. The story is simplistic enough, but its message of inclusion and love without barriers, fear or judgment is empowering and remarkable. The moment I first finished watching In a Heartbeat I knew there wasn’t a short film from any reputable studio that would be as bold, as daring or as significant.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Voice-Over Role |
Ana Ofelia Murguía – “Mama Coco” – Coco
That moment when “Mama Coco” remembers – and speaks one of her few lines in the entire film is beautiful. Then she sings – and the moment hits you. It’s amazing how a vocal performance with such little dialogue can move you so completely – but Ana Ofelia Murguía achieves it.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Voice-Over Role |
Michael Cera – “Robin/Dick Grayson” – The LEGO Batman Movie
Was there a more off-the-wall fun little LEGO man in animated movies in 2017? No. “Robin/Dick Grayson” was it and Michael Cera’s vocal performance was show-stealer. He became a stand-out in a crowded (but fun) superhero adaptation.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role |
Laurie Metcalf – “Marion McPherson” – Lady Bird
Laurie Metcalf captures what I imagine motherhood (or even parenthood) must feel like. She brilliantly delivers everything we need to know she’s feeling in the quietest frames – and she gives us the sometimes abrasive honesty most people have come to expect from their mothers. But she’s nurturing and even when the work is thankless, she still clings to her ideas and hopes for her daughter – and her family. Watching Metcalf give us these nuggets of perfection is really something special.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role |
Armie Hammer – “Oliver” – Call Me By Your Name
I love Armie Hammer. As “Oliver,” the 24 year-old graduate student in Call Me By Your Name, Hammer turns in a career-best performance. He’s intelligent (his diction and annunciation are impeccable) and sensual – and there’s a line during a scene discussing sculptures from Antiquity that represents his character – “as if he’s (they are) daring you to desire him (them).” After the credits have rolled, you feel everything “Elio” (Timothée Chalamet) feels, but you’re not angry with “Oliver,” because you too can’t forget him – and that has everything to do with Hammer’s execution of his craft.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Voice-Over Role |
Cristila Alonzo – “Cruz Ramirez” – Cars 3
“Cruz Ramirez” became the endearing car that could succeed “Lightning McQueen” (Owen Wilson) in one of the great feminist arcs in animated film history. Alonzo’s vocal performance represented “Cruz’s” shift in attitude, from her question of authority, to her uncertainty as it related to belief in herself – to the champion she becomes.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Voice-Over Role |
Anthony Gonzalez – “Miguel” – Coco
“Miguel,” the lead character in Disney•Pixar’s Coco is fun, witty and musical. The innocence of boyhood and rebellion are captured in Gonzalez’s vocal work, as is the musical talent and desperation for remembrance in the film’s emotional climax.
BLOCKBUSTER BREAK | BLOCKBUSTER AWARDS | BLOCKBUSTER BREAK
| FAN-VOTED BOBBY JAMES AWARDS |
Choice On-Screen Duo |
“Belle and The Beast” – Emma Watson & Dan Stevens – Beauty and The Beast
With 31.58% you selected the famed Disney duo as your choice on-screen duo. Their romance is clearly a “tale as old as time.” The runners-up, with 23.6% of the vote, were Gal Gadot and Chris Pine from Wonder Woman.
Blockbuster Villain of the Year |
“Pennywise” – Bill Skarsgard – It
One of the most famed villains in film history is “Pennywise,” the nightmare-inducing evil clown from Stephen King’s It. The latest film adaptation gave us a new iteration, and you obviously found him fearful and villainous. “Pennywise” floated just above the rest with 19.5% of the vote. He was followed closely by “Gaston” (Luke Evans) from Beauty and The Beast and “Kylo Ren” (Adam Driver) who tied for second with 13% of the vote.
Most Lovable Animated Character |
“Lumiére” – Ewan McGregor – Beauty and The Beast
I’ll admit I was a bit surprised to see “Lumiére” make a late surge in voting to overtake Coco‘s “Miguel” (Anthony Gonzalez) in this category. One of my all-time favorite Disney characters was adapted well, and voiced wonderfully by the talented Ewan McGregor. Lumiére’s final tally was 30.3% to “Miguel’s” 27.2%.
Blockbuster Character of the Year |
“Wonder Woman” – Gal Gadot – Wonder Woman & Justice League
No surprise here, Gal Gadot’s portrayal of “Wonder Woman” ruled the 2017 box-office (to the collective tune of $1.47 billion between Wonder Woman and Justice League). The individual effort of Wonder Woman ($800+ million globally) surpassed box-office expectation and marked the first time a blockbuster feature was helmed by a female director (Patty Jenkins). “Wonder Woman” was overwhelmingly the Blockbuster Character of the Year, with 26.9% of the vote. Her runner-up, Disney’s “Belle” (Emma Watson) commanded 11.5%.
Blockbuster Feature of the Year:
Again, not really a surprise. With her box-office dominance and existence as one of DC’s best origin stories, Wonder Woman defied the odds and ruled the world. Her story became the beacon of hope we all needed, and her story became the feminist empowerment story it was always meant to be. With 20.8% of the vote, Wonder Woman narrowly edged out Jordan Peele’s debut Get Out which finished second with 19.7%.
…AND WE’RE BACK!
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role |
Frances McDormand – “Mildred” – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
McDormand commands the screen as “Mildred.” Her character is desperate and motivated by tragedy – but this role wouldn’t be what it is without the life McDormand provides it. Her posturing, demeanor, tone and emotional accessability are incredible. “Mildred” is an everywoman in imagination and perhaps in life. To what lengths would mothers go to find answers like the one “Mildred” seeks? McDormand offers one interpretation so powerfully that she’s instantly unforgettable.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role |
Timothée Chalamet – “Elio” – Call Me By Your Name
Timothée Chalamet’s portrayal of “Elio” captures the insecurity of an adolescent coming-of-age. He’s reluctant but enticed, brilliant but unwise and above all is filled with curiosity and life. As “Elio,” Chalamet transcends preconceived notions and makes you see his character for what he is – human. Viscerally, you respond to him – and in the scenes with “Oliver” (Armie Hammer) you experience his uncertainty and excitement. His lust and his fear. When he’s alone, you respond to his conflict for identity, talent and emotion. It’s a defining and timeless performance.
Best Animated Feature | Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina – Coco
Disney•Pixar’s Coco is far-and-away the leading animated feature of 2017. It’s familial core and threaded original song “Remember Me” is breathtaking. It’s a testament to the power of family, life beyond death and remembrance. The art celebrating Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is remarkable – it’s a vivid exploration of its story’s heritage and culture.
Best Documentary Feature | Brett Morgen – Jane
I’ll admit, I’m biased – especially when it comes to the subject of one of my all-time favorite environmentalists, famed primatologist Jane Goodall. I relished the opportunity to explore the found footage and photos Brett Morgen shared about life and love that before now weren’t so completely represented. Jane Goodall is an icon – and beacon of hope. Her voice and her journey are as necessary now as they were in the 1960s in Tanzania.
Best Independent or Foreign Feature |
Luca Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name
Luca Guadagnino’s coming-of-age adaptation of André Aciman’s novel of the same title is far-and-away the year’s most compelling independent or foreign feature. Being a groundbreaking cinematic work of art and word-of-mouth helped take a lightly-budgeted film into an expanded release which has earned nearly $30 million (globally) and a committed sequel.
The story of Elio and Oliver one summer in 1983, “Somewhere in Northern Italy,” is richly flavored, significant in its portrayal and daring in its approach.
Lumiére Award for Directing |
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh executes his original script for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri to near-perfection. His film shares the story of “Mildred” (Frances McDormand) in a way that is thrilling, tragic and equal parts intense and heart-felt. Rarely do I separate best directing from best picture, but this is one year I’ve done just that – because I believe more in McDonagh’s executed vision (but I believe more in the social relevance and importance of the film I’ve selected as best picture) for this story. Three Billboards… is an unforgettable instant classic that is aggressively dynamic, yet tender in its approach.
The Wonder Woman Award | Gal Gadot and Greta Gerwig
(inaugural year for this award)
The Wonder Woman Award was established to celebrate the woman/women who made lasting, feminist contributions to motion pictures in a calendar year. This year, I’m naming Gal Gadot and Greta Gerwig the first recipients.
Gadot’s portrayal of the iconic “Wonder Woman” character was nothing short of splendid. She was strong, powerful, equal and commanding on-screen. An origin story goddess. Off-screen, Gadot became a powerful advocate for female equality and in the wake of 2017’s sex scandals that rocked every industry, she demanded the removal of a predatory producer in order to move forward with the highly anticipated Wonder Woman sequel. Gadot is an emerging voice with and empowering message.
Likewise, Greta Gerwig burst onto the scene in a big way with her celebrated directorial debut, Lady Bird, the story of a California teen navigating her transition between adolescence and early adulthood. Gerwig put women, and herself, in the center of a national conversation/movement (and in serious contention for the famed award season) just one year after women in Hollywood began calling for greater representation and pay equity. Now she’s recognized as an emerging and leading cinematic auteur.
Feature Film of the Year | Call Me By Your Name
This has perhaps been my worst kept “secret.” I adore this film – and recently, after watching it for fifth time (fourth time theatrically) I said to a friend:
Call Me By Your Name reminded me of love. The first time I saw it I had butterflies in the pit of my stomach. I recognized this story, this unease, this uncertainty. I knew its heartbreak all too well. I understood the longing – and the anticipation and fear of the “first time.”
I cried twice when I watched it at the St. Louis International Film Festival. Then I bought the book, read it and went to see the film again – all within a week. I was devastated for two weeks after.
After having seen the film for the fifth time, I realize my emotions now come in different places, because I know what’s to follow. I know the sorrow I’ll feel after the anticipation – but now, I don’t find it sad any longer – because I’ve come to recognize it beauty as love story that I feel is reliable.
It’s as if I’ve fallen in love – and I can rely on that – and that is what cinema has the power to – and should – do.
Call Me By Your Name exists as a bold story that has been necessary for years. What generation-defining films like Brokeback Mountain did over a decade ago, Call Me By Your Name will do moving forward with the likes of Carol (2015) and Moonlight (2016).
We are at a pivotal moment when sexuality is being explored as human – where people are people – and where their love is boundless by the confines of secondary identifiers. We are being told complete stories of who these people are – even if for only a moment in their lives.
Barriers are being shattered – and the boldness with which Luca Guadagnino and actors Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer explore James Ivory’s adaptation so sensually, completely and humanly is groundbreaking and admirable.
IF YOU’RE KEEPING TRACK: Call Me By Your Name amassed 6 Bobby James Awards, tying it with Brokeback Mountain (2005) and 12 Years A Slave (2013) as the most decorated film in Bobby James Awards history.